Genie's Takeaways From Australia
Published January 23, 2014 12:13
MELBOURNE, Australia - Eugenie Bouchard may not have won her first Grand Slam title this fortnight, but she will leave Australia with a wealth of memories, not just on the court but off of it too.
One of them, of course, is the result itself. Not only did Bouchard reach the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time, she extended that run to her first Grand Slam semifinal, making her the second Canadian in the Open Era to go that far at a major, after Carling Bassett-Seguso at the 1984 US Open.
"I have never met her, but I know her accomplishments," Bouchard said of Bassett-Seguso.
"I know she was obviously the best female Canadian player ever."
Bouchard will join Bassett-Seguso in another category after this tournament. She is projected to break the Top 20 come Monday, which would make her just the third Canadian ever to reach that elite, after Bassett-Seguso (who made it as high as No.8 in the world) and Helen Kelesi (who reached No.13).
Then there's Genie's Army - a group of Bouchard's Australian fans who cheered her on throughout the fortnight, even serenading her with O Canada and giving her some new furry friends to take home.
"They're from here. They've been supporting me from my first match. I was out on Court 15 in my first round and they were there with their t-shirts and everything," Bouchard said. "They've been a really good support team. They're great. They come up with these songs - and I got a wombat today."
By the time she got to the semifinals, she had four animals in her collection - not five. "I have a koala, a kangaroo, a kookaburra and a wombat," Bouchard said. "They skipped the first match."
Bouchard did get a fifth stuffed animal in the end though - after the semifinals. "I got a gift even though I lost - thanks to the Genie Army," she commented. "It's an emu. Her name is Sheila."
Sheila? "It's her name," she said, pointing to the tag, "it says it right here!"
There's clearly much more to come from Bouchard - her big game, her impressive on-court composure and her sheer will to work hard and improve. So what keeps the Canadian teenager motivated?
"I just love the feeling of hitting the ball," Bouchard said. "I love being on the court and playing and competition. I'm just competitive in everything I do, everything from tennis to board games.
"It can be tough though. Last year was my first full year on the tour, and I saw how different it was from the juniors. Definitely on a professional level, the mental aspect is tough. Week in and week out, you have to play tough players even from the first round. But I love it. I'm happy I can call this my job. I love playing tennis. I find it fun. When there's pressure, I think it makes it more interesting."